Imagine this scenario…
I have a son with a love for music, singing, dancing and drama. Plus he is blessed with a magnetic personality and beautiful eyes — gifts bestowed by God, enjoyed by all.
Well, time passes, and as his talents grow through practice and perseverence, he is recruited by a movie director who wants him to star in a re-make of a classic film without an official title.
Naturally as his parents, his mother and I are thrilled, but also concerned. We want to know what this means.
So, the Producer and Director come to sit down for a visit to unfold the wonderful details. “Your son has major talent and he will be a real star in this new production. We are already doing major promotion and this movie stands to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars. You know, pre-production hype, commercials, sponsorships, theater receipts, touring in national venues, pop-corn sales, you name it…”
“Why, Kenner and Hasbro want to market dolls and accessories all resembling your son, and these will be sold world-wide! Then there’ll be t-shirts, sneakers, with your son’s name prominently emblazoned. Kids will love him!”
They continue, “Best case scenario though is that shooting will take the better part of four years, and we will need to have your son available for rehearsal and shooting pretty much every day. He’ll have to practice pretty hard…”
“What about University?” we ask.
“No problem! We will supply your young lad with his own private tutor, working with him whether we’re in California or out on location.”
“But,” we counter, “Won’t he miss out on the experience of having classmates and lectures, and just normal activities with his regular friends?”
“I guess…” says the Director, “But he’ll be gaining a whole lot of other experience he can use later on, especially if his acting career takes off in the future!”
“OK… So how much will my son be paid?”
“Paid? What do you mean, paid?” asks the incredulous Producer.
“Paid. How much will he make for his starring role in this movie? How much will he be entitled to from all the marketing, the toys, the dolls, the accessories, the ticket sales, the touring, the pop-corn?”
“Excuse me?” spits out the Director, “Your son doesn’t get paid! He’s an amateur! Where’s the love of the craft? Where’s the gratitude for the opportunity we’re giving him? Let’s be clear, we’ll give your kid his own trailer, plus meals in the cafeteria, plus a daily allowance for incidentals, scripts, make-up, costumes…”
“Plus,” whispers the Director, “He can use my extra Porche, kind of like his own personal car, but that’s not for public consumption…”
“What do you mean?” I wonder.
“Mr. Keane… Bill… Can I call you Bill? Bill. The fact is your son isn’t allowed to be paid. It’s not legal.”
“What do you mean?”
“According to the rules of the National Collaboration of Amateur Actors and Actresses, which we call the NC-Triple-A, your son needs to be protected from those vultures who want to turn our hallowed craft into a cynical grab for money!”
“You got it, with agents, who will offer your son millions to star in their professional movies, leaving behind the innocence, the joy, the unique and youthful experience he can have with us.”
“Do you mean there will be others who will guarantee my son millions just to sign with them, regardless of his future circumstances?” I ask.
“Yes. Because of his talent, he can make millions before even reading a line, but think of all he’ll be giving up — his education, his collegial experiences, the purity of playing for the ‘love of the game’, if you will…”
“But, if he gets millions just to sign, can’t he just buy his own tutor, or even return to full-time studies later on, if he wants to complete his education, this time without having to worry about practice and travel?”
“Mr. Keane, you’re not getting it,” says the Producer, shaking his head.
“We’re offering your child the opportunity of a lifetime to star in one of the most lucrative productions in modern media history!”
“Yeah, and just to let you in,” says the Director, “The movie now has a working title.”
“We’re calling it, ‘March Madness’.”